Special Olympics honors athletes, teacher
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 30, 2014 1:46 PM
Special Olympics Wayne County recently held its annual spring track and field games, during which the athletes of the year and Teacher of the Year awards were also announced.
The two-day event was held at Eastern Wayne High School, with about 160 athletes participating from the schools and another 110 representing agencies and independent groups, said Rich Walderman, local coordinator.
They competed in wheelchair races, running and walking events and tennis and softball throws.
"Earliest records showed Wayne County putting on their first track and field competition in 1984," he said.
To commemorate the 30th anniversay when the program was chartered locally, Walderman said the awards were switched up to medals instead of ribbons.
"We thought it would be a good idea since a majority of these athletes will never compete at the state level or higher competitions where they could earn medals so that is why we chose to award medals on this occasion," he said.
Three local organizations also donated funds for the purchase of the medals, Walderman said, crediting the Goldsboro Civitans, Knights of Columbus and Crossroads Support Services with helping defray the expense.
"It was a real surprise for the athletes," he said. "I received a call from a parent whose child participated that morning and said he was still wearing his medal at 6 p.m. that evening."
Three awards were handed out during the spring event.
School Athlete of the Year 2014-15 is Jasmine Renee Mills from Greenwood Middle School. She received a plaque and a shirt.
Athlete of the Year for Independents and Agencies is Kadarius "Pete" Lewis.The Teacher of the Year Award is a newer recognition, which Walderman said he initiated a few years ago when he took over the program.
"(The purpose) is to recognize a teacher who had made an impact at their school by starting a Special Olympics program in their school, increasing participating and continuous participation in the local games," he said. "We give them a plaque and present it to them in front of their peers and the students during the spring games."
This year's recipient is Sarah Jensen, who initially started working in the program at Tommy's Road Elementary School a few years ago and is now at Meadow Lane Elementary School.